England boosted before Ashes with Ollie Robinson given all-clear on ankle injury

By Sports Desk May 23, 2023

England can breathe a sigh of relief after Ollie Robinson’s scan on his left ankle showed no damage, meaning he will link up with the Test squad as planned this weekend.

Robinson was withdrawn from Sussex’s bowling attack before lunch on day three of their LV= Insurance County Championship draw against Glamorgan after suffering from soreness at the base of his leg.

He was seen on Sunday on crutches and wearing a protective boot, heightening fears he would become the latest injury concern ahead of next week’s one-off Test against Ireland and then the Ashes.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement: “Scan results have revealed no damage to the ankle and that Robinson will join up with the England men’s Test squad this weekend ahead of the LV= Insurance Test match against Ireland starting on Thursday June 1 at Lord’s.”

Paul Farbrace, Sussex head coach and Robinson’s stepfather, attempted to downplay the seriousness of the injury on Saturday, adding the fast bowler was feeling more pain from walking rather than running.

Despite Robinson being given the all-clear, England are still likely to act with caution over a player who is almost certainly a first-choice for this summer’s programme with 66 wickets at an average of 21.27 in 16 Tests.

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    Duckett’s average of 56.44 is by far the highest of any England opener since Sir Alastair Cook’s retirement nearly five years ago, while his strike rate of 95.49 is arguably of even greater importance in the Brendon McCullum/Ben Stokes era.

    He and Crawley average over 48 as a partnership, albeit in just five matches to date, and here the PA news agency looks at their record in contrast to what has gone before.

    Immediate impact

    Crawley and Duckett’s first innings together set the bar high as they put on 233 against Pakistan in Rawalpindi in December.

    Those runs came in just 35.4 overs at a rate of 6.7 per over as both men scored centuries – as did Ollie Pope and Harry Brook, all at over a run a ball apart from Duckett’s 107 from 110 balls.

    It would be asking a lot for their partnership to live up to those heights since, and Duckett was dismissed first ball in the second innings, but in two of the four Tests since they have a fifty partnership to their name – 87 in Karachi and 52 against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui.

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    The last five years

    Duckett is the 12th opener used by England in 56 Tests since Cook’s departure, with only five of those even averaging over 30.

    His average is almost 10 runs clear of the field, though second is regular tail-ender Jack Leach whose 46.50 comes from scores of 92 and one in two innings as a nightwatchman. Captain Ben Stokes has no average as an opener, having scored 78 not out from 57 balls in his only innings.

    Keaton Jennings, Joe Denly and Rory Burns average narrowly over 30 while Crawley is at 25.19, which also ranks him behind Dom Sibley. His strike rate of 57.90, while pedestrian by England’s new standard, ranks third in that time and rises to 83.47 in innings partnering Duckett.

    Haseeb Hameed limped to an average of 19.18 and a strike rate of 30.80, Alex Lees was not much better at 23.84 and 43.06, Jason Roy made only 62 runs in seven innings and Jos Buttler was promoted once as a pinch-hitter but failed to score.

    The only other post-Cook pairings to average even 30 are Burns’ partnerships with Hameed (39.14) and Crawley (35.00).

    Long-term trend

    The issue has existed even since the departure of Cook’s predecessor as captain, Sir Andrew Strauss, back in August 2012.

    Cook averaged 42.52 from 144 innings in that time but only three other openers hit the 40 mark.

    Encouragingly, one of those is Duckett with 46.15 for his full 14 innings as an international opener. His strike rate across that whole period sits at 89.55.

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    Cook had endured a turbulent previous year-and-a-half, having overseen a 5-0 Ashes defeat, the end of Kevin Pietersen’s international career and lows in form in both Tests and one-day internationals that led to him being stripped as England captain in the latter format two months before the World Cup.

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    Cook ended his international career in September 2018, having amassed 12,472 Test runs including 33 centuries – both a record for an England batter.

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    Kashif Ali top-scored with 69 – his maiden half-century in the Blast – as the Rapids posted 183 for seven from their 20 overs.

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    Northamptonshire claimed their first win as they beat Derbyshire by six wickets with 12 balls to spare at Derby.

    Saif Zaib led them home with 37 not out from 32 balls while captain David Willey and Chris Lynn added 31 as the Steelbacks eased to their 152-run target.

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